Musical Legacy of the Travellers workshop Saturday


Craobh Dugan-O’Looney will present the “Musical Legacy of the Travellers” workshop, with stories and music featuring Oliver O’Connell and Mickey Dunne, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, online, via Zoom.

The event is sponsored by the Utica-based Irish cultural non-profit Craobh Dugan-O’Looney with a grant from the Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme, Comhaltas North America, and Meithal North America.

Tickets are $5, available through Eventbrite at:

The mysterious Travellers of Ireland infused Irish music with their uniquely passionate style, and organizers promise that viewers will find out how in this online workshop with O’Connell and Dunne. They’ll explore the Traveller’s traditions and troubled history, plenty of tunes too.

For at least 350 years, the Irish Travellers have wandered the roads of Ireland. There are several theories, but most historians think their way of life began around 1650. That year, English attacks on Ireland uprooted many families from their land. The Travellers worked as tinsmiths, peddlers, farmhands, horse traders and street musicians. Brightly painted barrel-shaped wagons were their homes. Over time they developed a culture all their own. And studies have shown they share a distinct DNA.

In 2017 the government of Ireland recognized the Travellers as an official ethnic group. Today there are about 25,000 Travellers in Ireland. Most still travel the roads, but now in camping trailers.

Dunne is one of the last great Travelling pipers. He’s a direct descendent of a long line of Dunnes famous for the many great musicians in their family.

O’Connell is the author of, “Free Spirits,” written with Tommy Fegan and published in 2011. The book documents the life, stories and music-making of Ireland’s travelling musicians. It also explores their impact on the development of Irish traditional music.

Together they combine their settled and Traveller cultures. They’ll play in the Traveller style on accordion, uilleann pipes, and fiddle. And they’ll show the rudiments of music-making and the importance of rhythm.


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